Charles Michel of the European Union speaks with the Chinese President on Friday – Politico

European Council President Charles Michel is expected to focus on human rights and trade issues during a phone call on Friday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid strained relations between Brussels and Beijing, according to an EU official.

Relations between the European Union and China have deteriorated over the past year due to Beijing’s treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang, as well as The confrontation with Lithuania over Taiwan. Some EU countries, including Lithuania, have called for a tougher approach to China as a result.

On Sunday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said vow To deal with Beijing “from a position of unity and strength.”

A European diplomat said Michel would urge Xi to reconsider the sanctions that Beijing imposed on EU politicians after the bloc itself imposed sanctions on Chinese officials linked to forced labor in Xinjiang. China’s retaliation has put work on hold to end the Brussels investment deal with Beijing agreed late last year. Another diplomat said the call showed the EU’s need to formulate its policies on China “from the point of strategic autonomy”. A spokesman for Michele declined to comment.

Reinhard Butekover, the European Parliament’s leading member of China affairs and one of those on Beijing’s sanctions list, described the planned call as a “positive” development. “I read it as a sign that #Beijing is beginning to understand an important lesson: they cannot make real progress just by talking to the leaders of individual member states,” Butekover chirp.

The call comes in the middle Reports That Xi will not attend the upcoming G-20 summit in Rome in person later this month, which could make it more difficult to strike a deal on climate commitments.

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